She Royal Deli (Quasi-Review)

https://twitter.com/sheroyalcoco

http://www.sheroyalcoffee.com/

                Being in Downtown for a Food Truck that wasn’t there, I couldn’t help but notice She Royal’s new paintjob, and couldn’t think of a better moment to finally re-visit for their (partial) review. No doubt due in part to their sister truck’s, Brava, recent street movements; well that and the heavy need for them to get some actual customers. It’s certainly a visual improvement over the simple, stark white “catering/deli truck” feel. Maybe what one could expect from a Food Truck idea based off of a coffee company… though they don’t sell their coffee from it (weird right?).

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                Another effect of the recent change, which I’m not sure if it’s permanent, testing, or just temporary, is the Menu reduction of 6-8 items, none of which really had much to do with eachother (well maybe a couple), down to 3. I’m personally hoping they stick to this, only going up to one or two other items; it makes more business sense (especially if customer base is low) and focuses the style a bit more (not much, but a bit).

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                As of now, items are a Chicken Curry, which I highly expect to be very similar to if not the same as Brava’s; the Gyro; and their Veggie Sampler, which I am VERY happy they kept (it was the one item that actually intrigued me out of their original list of 8. Well, that and the Samosa for a quick snack option). Previous items, if they ever do bring them back, have been samosas, a burger, satay, I think a taco or quesadilla, falafel maybe… they aren’t dishes I’ve wanted to think about too much.

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                Of these 3, the only one I would suggest is the one I tried and have been waiting a couple years to get back to: the Veggie Sampler. Brava’s and their curried chicken doesn’t impress me too much, and if one wants a quality Gyro (that they know is better than others) it comes from a place that specializes.

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                That  said, I really enjoyed the Sampler; two different kinds of curried/Middle-eastern stewed lentils and some cooked carrots n beans with (saffron?) rice and pita (which I think was griddled slightly at one point, had a nice crunch). I love lunches like this, after piling as much of the delicious veggies on the pita, the best thing in the world is just mixing all these different spiced stews together with the rice to make a rich, filling meal. And it is filling, so in that sense it’s quite worth the $8 cost.

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                On that note, though, I sadly wouldn’t even suggest eating this. If you want a Lunch dish like this in Downtown Minneapolis, go to the Gavidae Common Food Court a couple blocks down to Kabob. You can get a “lunch platter” piled with almost any of their own Indian veggie stews, a couple different rices (mixed with all the good stuff), maybe hot sauces, and if you’re lucky a little cold dessert, all for $5 plus change. This is where I first had this style of lunch and why I love eating like it. It may not be the best quality restaurant Indian food, but for a Food Court it’s damn good, and amazing for the price, the best deal in the Skyway I swear.

                Well, all that said, here’s my “Quick Score” system for Royal.

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                Food: 6.5ish – Veggie was tasty, but dragged down from what I expect an average or lower quality in other dishes.

                Holdability: 6.5 – depends on the item usually, but as it is now 2 of the 3 items really need sitting down to enjoy.

                Price: 6 – all $8 right now (the bigger menu was a bit more various), and I really wonder if all of them is worth it

                Speed: 8.5 – Pretty fast, I think all of the 3 are ready to go (maybe not the Curry), the bigger menu varies, but even so they didn’t shovel it out too quickly

                Toe: 4 – well there was a reason it took me so long to actually visit… the color scheme increases visual aspect and the smaller menu helps focus it, but still… I don’t see why they kept a gyro of all things.

                That’s about it I guess. I’ll try and keep my eye on them, see how the menu decisions come along. Until then though, Good Luck and Good Eating to you all.

Greek Stop

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https://twitter.com/greekstopfoodtr  

Main Location: Minneapolis

              Premiering in the Downtown Minneapolis scene last year, Greek Stop serves Diner/Deli-style Mediterranean cuisine. Despite the obviously cold weather and dwindling street-walkers, Stop decided to open its doors midway through the Fall of 2012. Luckily, they survived the brief season and have returned to take on a full season!

            Apparently the owner (Ahmed Makaraan) is taking this as a first step on the road to restaurant-dom; much like crowd favorite Sushi Fix and somewhat the opposite of Falafel King. It’s not that much of a stretch of the imagination, either, with their Truck menu already filled with Greek Deli staples (well, except for Stuffed Grape Leaves… seriously where are those?).

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            With a wide, WIDE viewing window takes up the Truck’s side, in which customers can oggle and point at the various menu items they’re too ashamed to try and pronounce. Through this, one can easily spot that most ubiquitous of the Mediterranean café, the giant tube of rotating Gyro meat. This is of course joined by the new, giant tube of rotating Chicken meat for shawarma. Of course, it’s not a “traditional” Greek menu without also offering Falafel, Hummus, Greek Salad, and Baklava. And for some reason they also have a burger (at times)…

            Giving a nod to its potential restaurant future, all these main sandwiches can then be purchased solo or as some form of “combo platter.” Now all customers have to do is attempt to navigate the blaring white board menu that’s replaced their previous, easier-to-read one which I assume had an unfortunate accident. In either case, props on not choosing the cliché “block lettering+picture” style employed by other Trucks which I shall not name in this post… again.

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Food: 8

                Grabbing a Gyro on my recent trip and a Chicken Shawarma (or sandwich… it’s been a while) plate back in the fall, I can safely say these are definitely the items to watch. Pita bread used is pretty big and soft, though obviously not handmade they use a decent product.

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                I’m certainly not an expert on gyro meat, but I found I enjoyed what they put out; it feels a bit better quality than a couple other general gyros I’ve found through the city. Though this could easily be from how THICK they slice their meat in comparison to others! All in all, it made scrumptious and enjoyable lunch experience. As for the chicken, it was rich, it was juicy, and it’s definitely something I would suggest getting in the gyro-like wrap.

              It was a while back, but I do believe I had Pita Chips and Hummus as well with that chicken… if I did, I’m pretty sure it was good, but not really “fantastic” in any way. Something tells me one could also say the same about their Salad, and possibly the baklava (so hard to find really GOOD baklava… even in international stores/cafes).

Holdability: 7

            Tightly wrapped in a roll of foil, they make their sandwiches easy to transport to one’s various destinations. As for the actual eating, the tzaziki and veggies can be a touch loose and messy, but they still stay within the large pita pretty well. Two hands are required for consumption-on-the-go, though. Platters quite obviously require sitting down, along with that salad which I still don’t understand the reason for buying.

Price: 8

             Solo sandwiches stay at $7 or $8, with subsequent combos adding on extra depending on quantity; highest price so far in that sense is $11. Both sides of Samosa and Baklava stay a $2.

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Speed: 8.5

              Average speed, in fact probably a bit quicker due to the ready-to-cut meat tubes and other ready-to-assemble products. Plus, with the viewing window, the wait becomes more enjoyable.

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The TOE: 6.5

             Basing it off of the future restaurant they hope to have, one of course loses many of the feelings of a typical Truck. Compared to the menu-similar Falafel King, however, they clearly show a better direction towards the Street Food movement; a slightly higher focus/smaller menu, bit more in portability, not to mention that giant window on the side giving us a view into their soul… and gyros.

             I wish they had some Stuffed Grape Leaves though… put them on a stick/toothpicks for a perfect street food item!

                        Tally: 38/50

                       

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Final Thoughts

            Certainly a fun little stop, perfect for those who feel the need to actually watch something while waiting for their food. Definitely stick with the Gyro or Chicken; probably one of the best options for them within the city (Truck or Non). Though two hands ARE required to eat as a just in case, these certainly qualify as a stop for those requiring eating-on-the-go. Unless of course one decides to get a platter… which may be okay for bringing back to the office, but I firmly believe the sandwiches are the stand-alone here compared to the rest. I’d say ignore the Falafels, there are a few better options.

Aussie’s Kebabs

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http://www.aussieskebabs.com/#

www.facebook.com/pages/AussiesKebabs/235287979819987

https://twitter.com/AussiesKebabs  

Main Location: Minneapolis

              One of our newest entrants to the street world, I first heard about Kebabs through a fellow classmate, who mentioned a friend/workmate of his starting a new stand. What do you know, when the next day I’m down with the Food Trucks I spot this smaller, steel-colored box snug between two of the giant cars. In front is a small line starting in front of a man holding a tablet, as the big wooden sign details us of the Booth’s (and that’s really what it is, a large booth, but with wheels for moving around) simple offerings.

               Now, before you get ahead of me, no these are not the random pieces of meat and vegetables shoved on a skewer. We don’t want any sword-fighting in the streets (okay, WE  do, but the food truck owners don’t need to worry about the lawsuits).

               Doner Kebabs are an Australian street food made from a gyro-like meat, both regular and chicken. Wrapped in a larger, thinner flatbread than the traditional pita, they’re served with spicy garlic-chili sauces and various other fillings. Finally, Kebabs presses in a Panini grill, sealing the edges, getting it crispy, and taking that sandwich experience to the next level. (As does any good Panini)

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               Kebabs simplifies, offering only 3 options for press, with your choice of sauce and variety of veggies for extra. They also have a salad, though why would you stand in line for lettuce?

Food: 7.5

                The pinnacle of a gyro all wrapped up in a perfect package, the lamb-pork meat is tasty and spicy, sauces are sharp, and the tortilla-like flatbread crisp and soft. Veggies, however, are placed in raw, which can lead to certain items ending up watery and bland due to only partial cooking; not sure what I think about warm lettuce either. Avoid this by choosing your toppings carefully.

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Holdability: 9

                Press is tight and sealed, the only thing escaping being a few trickling of juice right down your hand and wrist. Everybody knows that’s usually the best part. Very easy to walk around with only one hand available.

Price: 9

                All presses are around $7, but let me tell you the real deal for this booth; if you want different and extra veggies, they don’t screw you over with charges. 15 cents is all they charge for each addition, meaning very easy customization for non-wallet bending costs.

Speed: 5

               Their only real drawback I’ve found, due to the fact that for every single order they have to slice the meat from the stick, mix and wrap things together, and press for a few minutes. Now, this doesn’t sound so bad, until you realize that they only have two sandwich presses in their small area.

               This ends up where even the smallest of lines can end up a decently noticeable wait for your order.

The TOE: 9

               Doner Kebabs is an absolutely fantastic idea for street food; it takes something we are all so very familiar with but changes it just enough to provide a unique eating experience you can walk around it. My favorite thing about them though is their booth, that small little thing that looks like it should be squeezed in the corner and out of the way. You can’t help but think it belongs in some international market bazaar between a soup stand and a tent made of beads… though it might be a little flashier.

Service: -1.5

                Alright, the first time I actually tried to eat here, I had to give up; the line was taking an incredibly long time to move, despite the fact there were only about 5-7 people in it. My next time moved a little faster, but it was still quite slow. This mainly because, for whatever reason, the person taking the order was trying to do it on some sort of Tablet-related Program, despite the fact the kitchen window was RIGHT BEHIND HIM. Pencil and paper would have done the job a lot faster, which most other food trucks have already figured out.

                To be fair, they had only just opened, but it is very difficult to see them moving to something acceptable anytime soon. I really do HOPE that they’ve been able to work past these beginning problems; they really have the potential to be one of the Pillars of Food Truck scene.

                I can’t wait until the day I read a new comment telling me how wrong I am now about this.

                       Tally: 38/50

Final Thoughts

               Do not try to visit if you are at some Food Truck Gathering Event or if you are in a rush; both the wait in line and wait for the food will not be kind. However, when you’re walking down the street on a cool day and you see them standing with only a couple people in line, take a stop and enjoy something fantastic. Try the chicken while you’re at it, it looks good.

              For extra veggies, these are the ones to avoid:

  • Mushrooms (put in almost raw, lot of water pushed out, not fully cooked)
  • Cucumbers (don’t like the idea of cooking cucumber; get the Tzatziki sauce instead)
  • Pineapple (lukewarm-hot steamed pineapple isn’t pleasant)